UPDATE: Uber, Lyft one step away from legal

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UPDATED Wednesday, August 8, 2014 -- 10:18 p.m.

Uber and Lyft could be just one step away from operating legally in the city.

Alder Scott Resnik says this is the last major step in allowing rideshare programs to operate in Madison.

A few changes he's proposing will help make services like Uber and Lyft safe for riders, and equal competition for other cab services.

The first proposal is a surcharge to create funds for accessible transportation.

The second and major one is changing to the current 24/7 rule currently in place for cab companies in Madison.

Lifting that ban would come with a few requirements.

"What the changes to 24/7 would be, as long as one taxi cab company does decide to service the entire city of Madison, any of the cab companies could choose to opt out of that program," said Resnick.

Resnick says the council has spoken about eliminating the 24/7 rule for 14 years -- and he believes the city is ready for it.

This equal playing field would also mean rideshare services would be subject to background checks, having vehicles inspected, and servicing the entire city.

The next steps would require city council to approve all of the amendments -- to allow rideshare and other transportation companies to operate in the city.

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UPDATED Wednesday, July 23, 2014 -- 1:35 p.m.

NBC15 has received a statement from Lyft in regard to their operations in Madison.

"The Lyft community in Madison has been part of a transportation movement that is helping make city life safer, friendlier and more affordable. Current regulations surrounding taxis and limos were created long before anything like Lyft's peer-to-peer model was imagined. With creative thinking, regulations can be revisited to allow new industries to grow and thrive while still maintaining the highest level of safety. As we work through these challenges, we will continue to stand strong with drivers and passengers every step of the way, fighting any citations, covering relevant costs, and making policy progress."

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Posted Tuesday, July 22, 2014 -- 10:00 p.m.

Cabs are a frequent sight in Madison; just take a peek down state street.

One of the people driving those cabs is Robert Zettle.

"I've been in transportation professionally pretty much all my life," he says as he jumps in to a Green Cab.

Zettle says he is a proud driver, enjoys his job and likes meeting people -- but lately, there's a thorn in his side -- along with other cabbies in town.

He's talking about Uber and Lyft, where anyone can basically serve as a cab driver by using their own car.

They've been controversial in Madison since they first popped up earlier this year.

"I don't mind competition as long as they play by the same rules as everybody else," Zettle explained.

His boss, Phil Anderson, explains that's exactly what they aren't doing.

"Their drivers are not permitted by the city so they're not having background checks done by a responsible party, they're not required to be open 24/7 like taxi companies are," Anderson said, saying that this list goes on.

Anderson also says the biggest flaw is that they aren't properly insured.

"They're not required to show proof of insurance to the city."

That's why city attorney Michael May sent a letter to both Uber and Lyft in early July, stating that they are illegal and can't operate in Madison.

May said that they qualify as a taxi service and that they do not have the proper permits.

It's not stopping them though -- a simple click on the apps shows they're still out and about.

"The only reason that they're innovative... and let me make this point clear, is that they're illegal," Anderson stressed.

City Attorney Michael May made the clarified in a letter to Uber and Lyft in early July that they "qualify as a taxi service" and "do not have the proper licensing".

For now, it's a legal waiting game for drivers.

For Zettle, it's one he uses as a motivator.

"It's just a way to encourage me to be... the best I can be," he said.

Madison Police say you can't get a ticket for riding in an Uber or Lyft, but drivers can be tickets up to $691 including court costs.


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